The Sunday Times Magazine: Why does every male I know fantasise about the apocalypse? Is it just an excuse to build a man cave?

glass_w_1195670kWhen the Boy first took me home to his parents’ house, I must have looked nervous. As we stood at the threshold, he squeezed my hand and said: “Don’t worry. If there’s a zombie apocalypse, I have a plan.” He then outlined the detailed fortification system he’d established and how the supplies of dry crackers and tonic water his mum kept in the garage would keep us alive. It was as if he had read my mind.

Do all boys have a plan of action in the event of zombie apocalypse? The term originated in the 1960s, but the boys I know are still obsessed. Some have planned the fightback in detail. Andrew will jump in the car to Cornwall and build his zombie fortress in his mother-in-law’s holiday home: “It’s remote, near the sea,” he says. Ollie will head to the nearest war-memorabilia shop. Will intends to barricade himself at the end of Brighton Pier, surviving on distilled seawater and candyfloss.

Men have zombie- apocalypse plans because this is the kind of important stuff they discuss down the pub. I’m not partial to gender stereotypes, but while women waste time reading Fifty Shades, men are obsessing about Armageddon.

Do all boys have a plan of action in the event of zombie apocalypse? The boys I know are obsessed. Some have planned the fightback in detail

Perhaps this is because The End of the World is a chance to exhibit their protective instincts. Or just an excuse to build a man cave. This column was partly inspired by the former plumber Colin Furze unveiling the “secret” 20ft x 16ft bunker he built under his semi-detached house, complete with Nintendo, drum kit and electric guitar. Just the essentials. He said he created the bunker because his mate asked what he’d do “if the world was about to end in 34 days”.

That apocalyptic obsession is the premise for TV shows and films (see The Hunger Games, Mad Max, Red Dawn, Resident Evil). It’s a favourite genre for video games. What will you do when catastrophe strikes? When shit gets real, as Bruce Willis might say. Some people don’t just fantasise, they prepare.

If the phrase “prepper” was once associated with lunatics filling bomb shelters in their back yards filled with industrial amounts of baked beans, now “prepping” has gone mainstream. Bedfordshire has Europe’s first prepping shop — selling gas masks, crossbows, food packs and thumbcuffs (don’t ask) — opening to match demand.


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